photo by: Alternative Noise Productions
When the Executive Director of Re-Entry Bridge Network contacted me and asked if I would be interested in speaking to her students within the Richland Correctional Institution, I was shocked. How’s that for irony?
I had hoped this film would open up opportunities to do SHOCKUMENTARY Q&A presentations. Universities and disability related groups are where I imagined this objective would take me. Doing a presentation at a men’s prison was the furthest thing from my mind. After pondering this unique proposal though, the feelings of gratitude and excitement made it impossible for me to decline.
There are situations that I face daily, when someone tells me inappropriately that I am an inspiration. When able-bodied people tell me that I’m an inspiration simply because I am in a public place, that is an insult. Those perpetrators are objectifying me to make him/herself feel better.
Not once did I experience this sickening scenario while I was within the prison walls. Few populations have treated me with more respect and dignity than the Inmates at the Richland Correctional Institution for men. In fact, the only times I ever got nervous during the presentation is when the guards would pop into the room.
Until writing this post, right at this moment, I didn’t realize why the guards would randomly run into the room. It was the laughter. There is so much laughter in my life that I have taken it for granted. Every time the Inmates would roar with laughter, the guards would run in to see what was wrong. Then their observation would mesmerize them. The silly, shocked look on their faces was priceless.
Throughout the SHOCKUMENTARY Q&A presentation, we covered an array of thought provoking, intellectual, and fun topics. Of the numerous questions I was asked, none of them were about my disability. Not one! It would not have offended me. I’m just shocked once again! The Inmates were so appropriately inspired by the whole experience that they volunteered their limited resources and abundance of time to support a new project I am involved in.
It’s a good thing I wear a seatbelt all the time because this adventurous life I lead is rapidly gaining momentum!